English and Navajo with English subtitles, 2013, 93 minutes, color, U.S.A.
Drunktown’s Finest is Sydney Freeland’s feature film debut and her response to a news story that characterized her hometown of Gallup, New Mexico, as “Drunktown, USA.” Nizhoni was adopted and raised as a Christian by a white family, transsexual Felixxia dreams of becoming a model, and Sickboy is headed to basic training so he can take care of his soon-to-be-born child. We observe the Navajo Nation from the inside out through the eyes of these three unlikely characters. At first our preconceptions are reinforced, but slowly, as each of their lives unfolds, we confront the reality of living in this community, and we see these three aspiring to leave their town behind.
Shot against a mesmerizing New Mexico landscape, Drunktown’s Finest portrays such a strong underlying tradition of acceptance and family that we start to wonder whether the outside world these characters crave is truly the answer.
Director: Sydney Freeland
Screenwriter: Sydney Freeland
Producers: Chad Burris, Mateo Frazier
Executive Producers: Robert Redford, Duncan Sill, Jasper Zweibel, Dennis Mykytyn
Editor: Harry Yoon
Composer: Mark Orton
Cinematographer: Peter Holland
Production Designer: Kevin Pierce
Principal Cast: Jeremiah Bitsui, Carmen Moore, Morningstar Angeline, Kiowa Gordon, Shauna Baker, Elizabeth Frances